Putting their new skills into practice

Iraq, January 25, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Sebastian Meyer for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Sebastian Meyer for Mercy Corps

Earlier today, our 22 writing and photography workshop participants in northern Iraq got the chance to travel out to villages around Kirkuk to do field interviews and take photos of the hard-working people that Mercy Corps serves. And, as one of the instructors for this workshop, it was truly a joy to see.

In each of the three villages we visited, these budding nonprofit journalists dove right into the work: approaching farmers with ease, asking thoughtful questions and framing photos that told the story of the work we're doing in this part of Iraq.

And there was something else to it: many of the Mercy Corps staffers taking the workshop aren't from this area of Iraq and so they were stepping out of their comfort zones — and often into another culture — as they got to know more about those villagers. I was really proud while I watched them work because, in any case, doing this kind of documentary field work is never easy.

As I type this, workshoppers are doing their homework — writing stories based on their field notes and choosing their favorite photos from the day. I'll be eager to see and hear their work tomorrow, and will share it with you soon.